Thanks for a great race! [long]

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        I want to take another opportunity to thank everyone for a great race – racers, volunteers, spectators, and especially the race committee who organized the event, after a 3 year gap!

        Putting on a race takes the effort of many people, but when folks do what’s needed (on-time), it all comes together smoothly. When we started planning for the 2022 MWC, I had a list of things I thought we might have to drop, if we didn’t have enough folks who would say “I’ll do it”. Fortunately, only one thing – the canoe/kayak raffle – was dropped. Frankly we don’t make a lot of money from that, and as has been pointed out, the price of boats now a days makes that worse. We’d probably have to charge $5 per ticket now! [more on that in a bit]

        So the paddling community should recognize what the race committee does, and who does what, so here is a list:

        First – I had help from co-Race Director Sally Haywood, who stepped in on several tasks for me and provided lots of help to others.

        Next are our key Volunteer Coordinators: Overall & Race Ops Volunteer Coordinator Craig Heaton found nearly 50 folks and arranged jobs over 3 days and 5 different assignment periods, and helped allocate folks to Judging & Safety. Jon Lehmann put together a team of mostly inexperienced judges, but assigned a lead judge to each of 4 stations over the two Slalom race days. Dave Balicki found enough Safety folks to have good coverage on Friday, and to stop most boats from 19 swims from going through Cats Paw on Saturday. Great work guys, and great work by those 100 volunteers!

        Thanks to Chuck McHenry for designing a great course that survived a 15″ river rise on Friday night. It was challenging & tough & fun to watch, with apologies to said-safety boaters. Chuck also picked up all our wire & string & made sure we had all the gear we needed to operate. Thanks also to Di McHenry for organizing the BoaterCross.

        Speaking of gear – special thanks to Piper Wall and the ISU crew for meeting us at the shed at 10am Thursday and loading up all our gear, then helping get all the gates & poles up. We arrange the race to take advantage of ISU’s Spring Break because they contribute so much to the effort.

        Thanks to Casara Heaton our Race Registrar & webmaster. The great thing about having a tech-expert as Registrar is she can make the process automated – very little paper-shuffling & check & cats handling. So less work for everyone (except her). It gets better every year! THANK YOU!

        Thanks to Wahoo Dave Kovar for THREE jobs – he arranged the banquet at the Arcadia Academy, arranged the concessions with the Farmington VFW, and organized the signs for the race. It all went well, but next year we’re going to replace those heaviest signs with modern signs, that don’t require a monster truck to haul.

        There are several jobs that don’t take that much time beyond communication, but they have to get done. My cousin Wyoming Mike Warren took care of all the ACA & MDOC coordination, including our use permit and insurance certificate. Slim Kevin Olson made a few calls & arranged the dumpsters & porta-potties. Pirate Scott Swafford was our Media Coordinator & arranged several articles and did a great radio interview about the race.

        Scott Swafford & the Pansy Pirates also got up early Friday morning in the rain to get a lesson on the deployment and operation of our canoe lift system. The system was developed by Rich Gran (who trained them) and Tim Pfiel before that. Of course, the Pirates have some obvious motivation to have the canoe lift running!

        Thanks to John Foster, our 2022 t-shirt designer – I heard so many complements on the shirt! John Niebling also added the lettering & did the t-shirt procurement, including a last-minute order addition. Johnny Bling (& Diane) ALSO organizes the t-shirt rolling meeting (ok, party), transports the shirts, and stores, transports & sets up the PA system. [He also ended up with new gear to store after the race – thanks John!] Diane Niebling led the sales table team this year and sold lots of shirts, including old ones. Treasurer Steve Janney is especially appreciative.

        Zach Messaglia from SLU stepped up & volunteered to solicit donations of gear & items for our paddlers/volunteer raffle. He saved it from extinction – it was next on the cutting list, because it takes a lot of attention over several weeks. I think we can all agree he did great finding new items this year.

        Jojo Newbold organized an EXCELLENT Friday night event, from the downriver to the party afterward. She got great help from Mike Hickey to cook up some tasty post-race food, and Loren McHenry to spin some tunes, and fun times were had until after dark.

        Mark Wehking handled all the radio deployment over the weekend, and also helped with the generator. That’s an essential job for the races, where communication is the key to a good event.

        I can’t say enough about the help we get from Cathy McCredie and Chris Matsuno! Cathy McCredie seems to be everywhere, helping with start lists, giving out bibs & helping registration and the racer medals and the volunteer raffle, and takes a turn at announcing. Sometimes she even races! Also appreciate the medical & vision advice! Chris Matsuno does all the behind the scenes tasks that nobody sees, but everyone benefits from. He stores those bibs after making sure they are all in good shape. He has separate gear & paperwork packages for Safety, Judging, Start, Finish and scoring – probably 20 different paper forms we need to keep things organized. He maintains all the stopwatches, and records all the time, communicating with Start & usually Finish on every racer. After the race he quality-checks every touch, miss & clean gate for every run for every racer to make sure we don’t have any error. He also coordinates all the medals & awards, stores all the old-t-shirts, and mails out medals and shirts if you left early. And in his spare time he also fills orders from the MWA Store. Sometimes he even paddles! I know I have left out several of his tasks… (for brevity!)

        So, with all that help, the Race Director practically doesn’t have to do anything! But of course there are always a few things I can find to do…

        The last time I was Race Director was in 1994, for our race that also served as the Midwest Regional Trials for the 1994 Olympic Festival (held in St. Louis that July). I was also the Race Director for the ’94 Olympic Festival Slalom event held at 6 Flags. I’ve been helping with races for many years, and have been acting as deputy or backup for the last few Race Directors. I agreed to be Race Director again this year, only when it looked like we weren’t going to have one, and therefore no race at all. I have to say it has been my honor to again serve as Race Director, and such a great honor to work with this great team. But I am not greedy, and I think this is an honor that should be shared, so next year, someone else will have to step up, to lead the 56th Annual Missouri Whitewater Championships. (Let’s see: 1994, 2022, … I think I’ll be ready again in 28 more years! So, see you in 2050!)

        Thanks again everyone!

        – jw

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